Judith Cornell is an adjunct professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies in the Department of East/West Psychology and author of Mandala: Luminous Symbols for Healing. This biography focuses on Mata Amritanandamayi (Mother of Immortal Bliss), who is also known as "the Hugging Saint" or Amma (mother). To millions of devotees in India, she is seen as the reincarnation of Ramakrishna or the incarnation of the Divine Mother Kali.
Born on September 27, 1953, in a poor fishing village in the state of Kerala to a low caste couple, she was viewed as inferior on account of her dark skin and bizarre behavior. Amma explains: "From birth itself I had an intense love of the Divine Name. So much so, I would repeat the Lord's Name incessantly with every breath, and a constant flow of divine thoughts was kept in my mind irrespective of the place where I was or the work I was attending to."
Although treated poorly by her parents and forced to leave school at 13 to labor as an indentured servant, she acted upon her divine calling at 21. Her stature as a Hindu saint, or seer, rests upon her compassion and service to others. Over the years, she has established over 200 ashrams, a monastic order, orphanages, a state-of-the-art hospital, 25,000 free homes for the poor, and a monthly pension fund for 50,000 destitute women.
Mother Teresa has commented upon the universal deep yearning for love that individuals across the world evidence. Cornell notes: "When Amma embraces or kisses someone, it is a process of purification and inner healing. Amma is transmitting a part of her pure vital energy into her children. It also allows them to experience true, unconditional love. When Amma holds someone it can help to awaken the dormant spiritual energy within them, which will eventually take them to the ultimate goal of Self-realization." It is reported that in one day in 1998, she hugged 25,000 different people.
The author also discusses how Amma's spiritual outreach program has enabled many to connect with the Divine Feminine within. The healing power of selfless love is astonishing, and Cornell brings it vividly to life in this authoritative biography.